Solidarity Actions with Palestine Widespread at US Universities

Actions to Defend Palestine Widespread at US Universities (photo: Anadolu Agency)

After activists and civil society, now solidarity actions with Palestine are carried out by academics, such as lecturers and students, which have become increasingly widespread at all universities in the United States (US) since last week.

The movement started at Columbia University in Manhattan, New York, Wednesday when students set up a camp on the grass in the middle of campus called Buttler Lawn as a form of demonstration demanding a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

However, the campus responded to this action by bringing in New York police anti-riot troops to forcibly disperse the tent village set up by the demonstrators. In the aftermath, police detained more than 100 students.

Widespread Protests

This action then gave rise to similar movements at other universities in the United States, such as New York University, Harvard University in Boston, Yale University in Connecticut and others.

At Yale University, at least 47 people were arrested on Monday (22/4/2024) after refusing requests to disperse.

“The university made the decision to arrest individuals who would not leave the quad with the safety and security of the entire Yale community in mind and to allow all members of our community access to university facilities,” Yale, which is part of the Ivy League campus, said in a statement.

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“Students who are arrested will also be referred for Yale disciplinary action, which includes a range of sanctions, such as reprimand, probation, or suspension,” he added.

What did make students moves?

The protests that took place on several US campuses were an effort to uphold human rights in Gaza, Palestine.

Many of the demonstrators admitted that they were disappointed with the US government which has continued to finance Israel to attack Palestine in recent times.

Moreover, there is an attitude from the US government which is considered not to guarantee freedom of opinion in the academic environment.

The students expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, where to date the death toll from Israeli military aggression in the enclave has reached 34,200 people.

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Columbia University and other universities were asked to divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Students condemned companies profiting from the war in Gaza and demanded amnesty for students and lecturers who were suspended for protesting.

Catherine Elias, 26 years old, University of California student returned to the protest camp after her release.

“We are in a country that not only funded but produced and created many of the bombs that were dropped on Gaza,” Elias said, referring to US support for Israel during the war.

US President Joe Biden has even signed into law a $95 billion aid package that includes $26 billion for Israel.

“Any weaponry that allows this genocide to continue is actively funded by universities like Columbia through their endowments,” she added.

Respond from President Biden

US President Joe Biden immediately issued a statement. Through the White House he claimed to support freedom of expression on US campuses.

“The president believes that freedom of speech, debate and non-discrimination on campus are important,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing, Wednesday (24/4/2024) evening.

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“We believe that everyone can express themselves in a peaceful way. But when we talk about hateful rhetoric, when we talk about violence, we have to stop it,” he added.

The US itself is now entering the election season. Biden has reportedly lost Muslim votes with his support for Israel.

In recent months, the US attitude has also changed in responding to Israel. A number of reports mention how Biden tried to pressure Netanyahu to end civilian casualties.

Previous Student Protests

The decline in students in the US is nothing new in opposing Uncle Sam’s war policies.

In a high-profile incident in 1970, the National Guard at Kent State University in Ohio opened fire on students during an anti-Vietnam War protest, killing four.

The loss of life will certainly continue to be remembered, both by the public and the United States government. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)